KGB Radio: Boxing, South Africa, Apartheid & Sun City

By now Aris Pina and Patrick Connor have been doing boxing history podcasts for more than five years. It's just a declaration, not a farewell, don't worry. The latest history episode of the Knuckles and Gloves podcast sees Aris and Patrick discussing the portion of South African history that led directly to outside exploitation of its boxing, Apartheid and the development of the Sun City resort. You won't want to miss this one.

South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela holds "Baby" Jake Matlala's belt following the latter's final bout in 2002 (Credit: Sydney Seshibedi)

A few months back the Knuckles and Gloves podcast released a show talking about the Best African Fighters Ever. While it was a lot of fun, we quickly realized doing a single show for the entire African continent wasn’t fair. Beyond our inability to smash that much boxing into one show, too many outside themes crept in.

For instance, boxing often spread along with European colonization efforts and visits from U.S. and British military. But with that came an enormous amount of historical baggage, which can’t be ignored. To truly understand how boxing got to where it is, we need context.

South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela and 1990s super middleweight champion Thulani Malinga both remain South African boxing icons

South African boxing — and the history leading to its popularization — deserved its own episode. But why stop there? In the 1970s and 80s, South African Apartheid became a sort of cause célèbre. And as with just about anything controversial, boxing got involved.

South Africa is hardly alone in this regard, but its boxing is criminally under-reported outside of the country for how busy it is. Promoters Cedric Kushner and Thinus Strydom alone worked with an array of famous South African fighters, but even more who never ventured away from home.

Nkosana “Happyboy” Mgxaji, an underrated and extremely popular South African fighter who chose his nickname to honor his late brother

Like many others, the story of South African boxing, as limited as this particular version is, needs to be told. Besides, it sure beats hearing the same old fight tales you’ve heard time and again.

On this episode of the Knuckles and Gloves podcast, Patrick Connor and Aris Pina tell the story of South African boxing and Apartheid like only they can.

Find the Knuckles and Gloves podcast on your favorite apps, like Apple, Spotify and Google. Or click here and listen in your internet browser as you look at the rest of the site. Or, if you prefer, listen via the app below.

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